Monday, July 28, 2014

Grading the 2014-15 Season of Jammin' at the Gem

I'm disappointed but not surprised by the bookings for the 2014-2015 season of the American Jazz Museum's Jammin' at the Gem series.  After witnessing legendary artists ranging from Jimmy Cobb to Joe Lovano play to a disturbing number of empty seats year after year, the forthcoming season doesn't include anyone of their magnitude.  Instead, organizers have doubled down on the proven draw of smooth jazz. 

Brian Culbertson
January 24, 2015
Brian Culbertson may look like he spends more time preening than practicing, but the keyboardist's groove-based version of smooth jazz is effective.  His latest album features contributions from Jonathan Butler, Steve Lukather and Lee Ritenour.
Grade: B-

Gerald Albright
February 14, 2015
I know where I'll be on Valentine's Day.  The sultry smooth jazz of Gerald Albright is tailor-made for the holiday.  The saxophonist's insinuating music is a staple of the quiet storm format.
Grade: B+

Terri Lyne Carrington
March 21, 2015
I'd be vastly more excited about the booking of Terri Lyne Carrington's Mosaic Project had I not attended an underwhelming concert by the drummer's band at Jazz Winterlude in January.  (The Plastic Sax concert review is here.)
Grade: B

Joe Locke Quartet
April 18, 2015
Until I set about composing this post, I didn't even know what Joe Locke looked like.  I've long thought of Locke as the most prominent jazz vibraphonist not named Gary Burton or Bobby Hutcherson.  I suspect Locke would struggle to fill the Blue Room let alone the 500-seat Gem Theater, but I'm looking forward to his appearance.
Grade: B

Marilyn Maye
May 23, 2015
I don't think I'll ever forget Marilyn Maye's antics at the Gem Theater in 2010.  (The Plastic Sax concert review is here.)  The ageless vocalist is always delightful.
Grade: A-

I conducted similar exercises for the 2013-2014 season here, the 2012-13 season here, the 2011-12 season here, the 2010-2011 season here, the 2009-2010 season here and the 2008-2009 season here.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Now's the Time: Kansas City's 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival

The embedded footage documents the July 23 press conference for the October 11 Kansas City's 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival.  Trey Runnion, Greg Carroll and Suzetta Parks offer details about the event.  The unveiling of the festival's poster at the 5:00 minute mark is the conference's most compelling moment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The headliners of the 2014 edition of the 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival are Roy Hargrove, Meshell Ndegeocello, Midnight Star and Lucky Peterson.

*Brian Culbertson, Gerald Albright, Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Locke Quartet and Marilyn Maye are the featured artists of the 2015 season of the American Jazz Museum's Jammin' at the Gem series.

*Joe Klopus' latest column offers details on the American Jazz Museum's new American Jazz Walk of Fame.

*KC Jazz Lark provides a handy encapsulation of recent events.

*The Pitch recommends the July Jazz Jam at Community Christian Church.

*A band led by Phillip Johnston, the founder of the Microscopic Septet, will accompany a presentation by Art Spiegelman at Helzberg Hall on October 19.

*Clint Ashlock implies that music is the universal language. 

*Joe Dimino interviewed Lou Donaldson for his Neon Jazz podcast.

*Tweet o' the Week: John Hilderbrand- Enjoying the morning at the American Jazz Museum!

*Comment o' the Week: Gary- I actually saw this album in the used rack at a Savers over the weekend. Guess I should have taken it home.

*From a press release: The Debonair Duck Warner, Crooner, performing with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band, Spirituality & All That Jazz, Wednesday, August 6, 2014. Lester Warner, affectionately known as "Duck," is a quiet, soft-spoken man who transforms himself into a spectacular entertainer when he takes the stage. His voice is a rich baritone with a beautiful full falsetto that has been compared to Nat "King" Cole. He is also a gifted instrumentalist who plays trumpet, flugelhorn and trombone.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Album Review: David Basse- The Hero and the Lover…

 When David Basse was known as the singing drummer in the City Light Orchestra in the late 1980s, it seemed as if the good times would never end.  Kansas City had over a dozen dedicated jazz venues and Basse's band was capable of filling all of them. 

The audience for jazz has since dwindled dramatically.  While Basse is still one of the the best known musicians in the Kansas City area, he's no longer a mainstay on the calendars of the handful of remaining jazz venues. 

The Hero and the Lover…, Basse's latest release, reflects this drastic transformation.  The themes of resiliance and hard-won endurance inform most tracks.  Selections including "Easy the Hard Way" , "That's Life," "Sixteen Tons" and "Vacation From the Blues" reinforce the motif of dogged perseverance. 

Backed by saxophonist Stacy Dillard, pianist Richard Johnson, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Neil Smith, Basse sounds like Mose Allison's favorite son.  The Hero and the Lover… won't restore Kansas City's jazz scene to its former glories, but it's one of Basse's best albums.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Now's the Time: Pat Metheny

Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories) is the only Pat Metheny album a lot of people own.  The appeal of the lovely duet with bassist Charlie Haden extends well beyond jazz aficionados.  Haden died last week.  The Pat Metheny Unity Group collaborates with Bruce Hornsby at Crossroads KC on Saturday, July 26.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The lineup of the 2014 Prairie Village Jazz Festival is detailed by KC Jazz Lark.

*"Uncool Kids" is a track from the Project H's forthcoming album We Live Among the Lines.

*Tinks, Peter Schlamb's new album, is available at CD Baby.

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra has unveiled its 2014-15 season.

*The Kansas City Star documents Saturday's swing dance at the Masonic Temple.

*Here's Stephanie Bryan's obiturary.

*The Kansas City Star reports that the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the American Jazz Museum with a $133,050 grant.

*Paul Mesner Puppets was awarded a $15,000 grant for a production titled "Ragtime to Bebop: The Story of Kansas City Jazz."

*Mills Record Company celebrates the "Jazz Solo" nominees for The Pitch's music awards.

*The Pitch touts a gig by the Westport Art Ensemble.

*Chris Burnett enters the "does jazz need to be saved" debate.

*Tweet o' the Week: Joel Cunningham- It's Saturday night of @KansasCityStomp and #VineStreetRumble is on fire!

*From Tim Whitmer: July Jazz Jam #4 , the Summer Sax Summit  promises to be a hot, jumping  good time evening of music, fun and joy. 3 of Kansas City's hottest saxophonists playing a popping , upbeat variety of jazz styles  from classic KC style to blues to swing. In addition the amazing Monique Danielle with be the  guest vocalist. And the all star rhythm section includes the world class talent of guitarist Rod Fleeman...

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

EP Review: Jorge Arana Trio- Oso

In constant jeopardy of lapsing into staid routine, jazz needs an occasional swift kick in the pants.  The Jorge Arana Trio is providing the uncomfortable wallop to Kansas City's jazz scene.  The band will celebrate the release its new EP Oso at the RecordBar on Saturday, July 19.  Haymaker Records describes the band's approach as "an avant-garde geometry of rock, jazz, classical, punk, electronic, experimental, and incidental music."  I detect traces of James "Blood" Ulmer, Ennio Morricone and the noisy jazz guitar of Greg Ginn.  It's bracing stuff that's every bit as significant as the mainstream efforts of more conventional musicians.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)